Cruise P2130 on the Saga Pearl II to the Western Mediterranean

Date: Port: Flag: Tour escort: Comment:
26/04/2015 Southampton - On board by 1:30 pm!
28/04/2015 La Coruna Scenic Estuaries Wine & tapas!
01/05/2015 Almeria Flamenco Show Intimate cave venue!
02/05/2015 Alicante - Tram rides & castle ascent!
03/05/2015 Ibiza Jeep Adventure Quick dip in the cold Med!
04/05/2015 Alcudia
Mallorca
Northern Majorca Alcudia, Tramuntana & Pollenca
05/05/2015 Mahon
Menorca
Equestrian Tour Horses, tapas and museum
07/05/2015 Gibraltar Gardens & Cable Car Alameda garden & rock ascent!
08/05/2015 Portimao Scenic Western Algarve Cape St. Vincent, Sagres & Lagos
09/05/2015 Lisbon Sintra & Cascais 4WD Cabo da Rocha & Sintra forest
12/05/2015 Southampton - Home by 10:10 am!



Southampton Embarkation Day: 26th April 2015

I left home at noon and was on board the ship by 1:30 pm meeting up with my cabin mate David Sindall. I then snacked in the Embarkation buffet with a couple from the Black Isle, before having a lie down. After the pax safety drill I attended the sailaway in a cold wind. I chatted with the couple from East Yorkshire who had kindly sent me a photograph from the round Ireland cruise five (?) years ago! At the entertainers cocktail party I met up with Carol the social hostess and Jacquie the tours manager amongst others. Nicholas Parsons was looking frail but in good spirits. Later I bumped into Tony the headmaster from Leicestershire and his wife Sue, who I had last travelled with up and down the Channel last year on the battlefields cruise. At dinner I was placed by Kirsten the Maitre d'Hotel on a quiet table with ladies from Sidcup and Liverpool, a German lady from Stratford-upon-Avon, a gent from Gloucester and Shirley the dancer from Woking. I dined on the beef, but only the gent wanted to share my complimentary bottle of Argentinian Malbec and then he left most of it! At the pre-show dancing I danced with Joan from Barton-on-Sea who I had last seen on the Black Prince's farewell voyage! It later transpired that we had also been together on Balmoral's maiden voyage. She invited us both to share her bottle of champagne in her Suite Number Four! I also danced with Shirley from St. Albans, Janet from Suffolk and a lady from Bromley, both before and after the show, which was good for a first night. Shackleton's lounge was deserted after the show, so I went to bed.


First Sea Day: 27th April 2015


David & Martin

David & Martin

I breakfasted on one egg Benedict with Sheila from West London who had worked in the Bermuda tourist office in London. I then startred writing this blog. At 10 am we were introduced in the Discovery lounge by the Cruise Director, followed by the Tours Manager's talk. This was followed by the port talk on La Coruna. At noon we had the Singles Mingle where I chatted with Joan and the two Shirleys. I lunched on salmon and chips with June from Essex and another lady. I then slept for two hours, before doing half a dozen circuits (one kilometer) of the top deck. We had our photographs taken again before the Captain's welcome cocktail party, so that our labels could be changed from Dance Host to Gentleman Host! At the Cruise Director's request I danced with Joan, June and ladies from East Yorkshire & Cleveland, but neither Shirley. I dined on fillet steak stuffed with Stilton with Joan, Lesley from Ilkley, a lady from Liverpool and a gent from Cumbria. The sixth place was empty as the regular occupant was dining on the Captain's table! I danced with the usual suspects plus Stuart's friend Joyce from Lytham before showtime. I didn't really enjoy the clarinettist's jazz music and afterwards the band left for Andy Jones's cabaret in Shackleton's, so Clive played five tunes on the piano at my suggestion (waltz, foxtrot, rumba, quickstep & waltz) whilst we danced with the five remaining ladies.


La Coruna: 28th April 2015


Sumo wrestler in La Coruña

Sumo wrestler in La Coruña

I breakfasted on a cheese omelette with Joyce from Lytham, before walking around La Coruna. My camera's batteries ran out so I had to use my Acer mobile phone instead. I had an early lunch at noon of gammon and chips with Audrey from Crosby before escorting the Scenic Estuaries tour. We had photostops at the Roman lighthouse and the bridge at Pontedeume before enjoying white wine and tapas at a restaurant overlooking one of the rias. I pigged out on 'pigs-in-blankets' and drank two glasses of the white wine! I dined on sirloin steak with Jackie from Bournemouth's Westcliff, June & Norman and another couple. I ordered another bottle of house white wine and we also finished up some white and red leftovers, so I had another two glasses of white wine! Although it was not in the programme, I danced with Joan and Shirley before the Karen Carpenter tribute show. The singer had a Leeds Yorkshire accent when she spoke but sang exactly like the late, lamented Karen! In Shackleton's bar Barbara brought me a drink whilst we listened to Clive play. She claimed not to have danced since we had last been together on the Spirit of Adventure in Australia & New Zealand!


La Coruña Church

La Coruña Church


Second Sea Day: 29th April 2015

Up at 7:30 am I was expecting a hangover, but I was fine, so I breakfasted with June and the Vicar on one egg Benedict. At 9 am I led my first line dance class teaching California Frieze, Texas Waltz & Electric Slide as usual. I had a dozen attendees including Carol the Social Hostess and a couple of circle dancers. I then did half a dozen circuits of the top deck about one kilometer in total. At 11 am I listened to Stuart's lecture on cruise liners. Just as that ended, the Captain announced whales near the ship. I saw two pairs of fin whales spouting about half a mile from either side of the ship, perhaps we had split up a school? At 12:30 pm I lunched on steak and kidney pie with June & Rosemary. At 1:30 pm I led my first ballroom dance class teaching the Social Foxtrot to fourteen pax. I was helped by Maryan & Diana, two girl members of the classical quartet who agreed to be leaders, so David and I only had two single ladies each to deal with. I then slept for over an hour before doing more circuits of the top deck. At 6 pm we had champagne and canapés in Joan's suite. I dined on sirloin steak (again) with five single ladies, three of whom wanted red wine, so I ordered another bottle of Argentinian Malbec. We danced both before and after the magician's show, the latter session being with Clive as the band had adjourned for another jazz concert in Shackleton's.


Third Sea Day: 30th April 2015

Having had half a bottle of champagne and two glasses of wine the night before I was again expecting a hangover, but thankfully I had kept hydrated. I breakfasted on a cheese omelette with Joyce before leading my second line dance class. I taught Texas Waltz, Slosh & Cowboy Charleston to a dozen people. During the morning I did my first laundry load of smalls and walked a full kilometer around the top deck in the sunshine of the Bay of Trafalgar. I enjoyed Nicolas Parsons' talk but had to leave after 45 minutes (he went on for a full hour!) in order to attend the Singles Luncheon. This included pork for the first time rather than the ubiquitous chicken. I hosted a table for six, with musical chairs after each course! I chatted to dancers Tricia and Shirley amongst others. I had to slip out at 1:15 pm in order to set up for my Waltz class at 1:30 pm. I had fourteen people in spite of the singles luncheon running on in parallel. I slept for two hours before walking another kilometer around the the top deck, followed by an hour's watching the passage through the Straits of Gibraltar in glorious sunshine but no dolphins. I dined on New York strip steak with Valerie from Nursling, Barbara (who I had sat with at the singles lunch), Josie & Jo, and Sheila who I had had breakfast with. The latter boasted that she had been smoking from 18 to 88 without side effects! I danced with the usual suspects both before and after Laurie Briggs' second show featuring the songs of Judy Garland and Doris Day amongst others. However she sang each song with her Karen Carpenter voice so it was not as good as her first tribute show had been.


Almeria: 1st May 2015


John Lennon & me in Almeria

John Lennon & me in Almeria

I breakfasted on one egg Benedict with Janet from Suffolk, before walking along the prom taking photos in the early morning sunshine. However the sea mist started to roll in and it remained over the city of Almeria all morning when I was escorting the Flamenco tour. I had Alexandra the Chief Engineer's Swedish wife in tow for training and Jacquie the Tours Manager was on my bus too! We were taken to a cave in the suburbs where a young lady wearing three different outfits danced to a female singer/violinist and a male guitarist. The sherry was very dry, but the olives and potato crisps were lovely. Our coach couldn't get back into the port for ten minutes as a May Day labour march was assembling. I lunched on lamb with June before sleeping for an hour and a half. I caught the 3 o'clock shuttle bus into Almeria and walked back via the main sights getting back to the ship at 4:30 pm. I danced with a few passengers at the sailaway, but as the breeze blew up most pax left the aft deck. I dined on Almeria chicken with Enid & Geoff from Looe in Cornwall, June & Elaine originally from Keighley in Yorkshire who had known each other for over 70 years, and another deaf lady who does dance. We danced both before and after the clarinettist's second show which was again jazz oriented. The band called the Slosh and a couple of sequence dances, a Saunter Together and a Square Tango. Clive played for us after the show before everyone moved into Shackleton's bar for the MoTown cabaret.


Alicante: 2nd May 2015

I breakfasted on a cheese omelette in the Verandah restaurant enjoying the sunny view of Alicante. I caught the Port Authority shuttle bus to the port gates and then walked along to the tram station. Unfortunately the branch line to the port has been closed since I was last there in 2011, so I had to walk a couple of miles to catch the tram. I travelled to El Campello for one euro 45 and then back, this time all the way to the terminus for the same amount. The tram tunnel has been completed all the way back to the railway station but it is still not being used. So I walked to the train station and then wove my way around the downtown area photographing the sights. The medieval market in the old town was splendid! I caught the 12:15 pm Saga shuttle bus back to the ship, not having twigged that there were two competing shuttle services! I lunched on a hamburger (without bread!) with June from Essex, before sleeping for an hour and a half.

I caught the 3 o'clock Saga (not Port Authority) shuttle bus which went a little further into town. I paid 2 euros 70 for the lift and entry to the castle for stunning views in the hot sun. I walked down via the archeological museum (MARQ), the cultural centre and the bull ring. I photographed the outside of the water museum and went in the modern art gallery (MACA). I then caught the 4:45 pm Saga shuttle bus back to the ship. At the sailaway Shirley bought me a glass of sangria and we danced with most of the usual suspects. I dined on chicken and ham pie again with Enid & Geoff from Cornwall, June & Elaine formerly from Yorkshire, together with June from Essex. I ordered another bottle of Argentinian Malbec to go with some left over white and red wine. We danced both before and after the magician's second show, during which I updated this blog.


Ibiza: 3rd May 2015

I breakfasted on one egg Benedict before escorting my first choice Jeep Adventure. We had two Land Rovers which headed off for the north of Ibiza. We had three quarters of an hour at the lovely Benirras beach, so I had a dip in the very cold Med. Back at the ship I lunched on roast beef with the other Shirley, before sleeping for an hour and a half. I caught the 3:30 pm shuttle bus into town and the 5:30 pm one back having walked the ramparts of the old town. I dined on spaghetti carbonara with Josie, Jo, Sheila, Barbara and Colleen. I bought a bottle of house white for the table, but only one lady had a glass as three of the others had their own red wine. We danced both before and after the production company's excellent new Andrew Lloyd Webber show "The Music of the Night".


Alcudia, Mallorca: 4th May 2015

I breakfasted on a cheese omelette with David & the Vicar before escorting the Northern Majorca tour. We cut out the Roman remains at Alcudia as they were closed and headed from the Tramuntana Mountains. We had elevenses at ten o'clock in Port de Pollenca and then had an hour in Pollenca town itself. I climbed the enormous stairway to the Calvary Chapel for super views across the town and plain. Back at the ship I lunched on a beefburger and chips with Shirley al fresco. I slept for an hour before catching the 3 o'clock shuttle bus into Alcudia town. I walked the impresssive ramparts but the Roman site was still closed. I tried to walk to the Roman theatre but it too was locked, so I carried on the two miles back to Port d'Alcudia. This was a concrete jungle seaside resort so I continued along the harbour back to the ship. Here we had a delightful folk dance troupe performing Mallorcan dances. The girls had petticoat skirts and the boys pantaloons. Another Saga Magic Moment! I dined on sirloin steak (yet again) with Diana & her friend and Julie with her quiet husband & loud boyfriend! I had both red and white wine left over, so no new bottle was ordered, and I had a glass of each for a change. At the BBQ deck party I danced with Janet, Shirley, June, Tricia and Colleen. I wish we could have eaten al fresco rather than host a table in the dining room! We danced with the usual suspects after the classical guitarist's show.


Mahon, Menorca: 5th May 2015


The old harbour at Ciutadella, Menorca

The old harbour at Ciutadella, Menorca

I breakfasted on one egg Benedict with June, the nautical lady from Ilkley and another gent, before escorting my first choice Equestrian tour. I had Alexandra the Chief Engineer's Swedish wife in tow for training as an escort again. We began at the Mirador overlooking Cala Galdana before seeing a single horse performing dressage. I had some lovely pastries, including some delicious pork pies, and 2 little cups of gin with lemon. We ended the tour at the Binis(s)ues mansion and museum, which I have been to before. I lunched on Lancashire hotpot with Anne the little old lady who I had helped walk around the Equestrian centre. At 1:30 pm we had another dressage display, this time five Menorcan horses performed on the quayside. Yet another Saga Magic Moment! I slept for an hour before catching the 3:30 pm shuttle bus into Mahon. I then walked back to the ship via most of the sights. We had to get ready for the Britannia Club cocktail party and so missed the spectacular sailaway down the Mahon estuary. I chatted with the Robinson couple from Coventry who had been coming to my ballroom dance classes and to others. I dined on fillet steak with Tricia and her Scottish lady friend, two ladies from Devon and another quiet lady. After a vote, I bought a bottle of Argentinian Malbec red wine and finished up a bottle of white myself. We danced before the "Jersey meets Mersey" (New Jersey meets New Brighton?) production show to the band and afterwards to Clive the pianist.


Fourth Sea Day: 6th May 2015

I breakfasted on a cheese omelette with Joyce from Lytham before leading my third line dance class. I taught Texas Waltz, Just Because & Party Samba to 14 people. I then listened to John's talk on the two Portugal ports and Peter's excellent talk on David Dimbleby. At noon I changed into my Spanish outfit ready for the al fresco luncheon. I danced with the two Shirleys, Tricia, Colleen and Janet on the aft deck, before having Serrano ham as my starter and chicken for my main course from the BBQ. I had to leave at 1:15 pm to set up for my Social Rumba class at 1:30 pm so I missed the Captain being thrown into the pool! With the luncheon running on, I only had eight people at my dance class. I then slept for an hour before doing a kilometer around the top deck in the bright sunshine and seeing some dolphins about half a mile from the ship. I dined on peppered steak with Colleen, Barbara, Jo, Josie and Sheila, ordering a bottle of Argentinian Malbec red wine for us to share. We danced both before and after the soprano's showtime with increasing numbers of ladies coming out of the woodwork!


Gibraltar: 7th May 2015


Gibraltar Convent

Gibraltar Convent

I breakfasted on one egg Benedict with Joyce and June before walking into town. I was off the ship by 8:30 am, at the Moorish Castle by 10 and at the top of the rock by 11 am. It had taken me 2 hours to walk up but only half an hour to walk down! Back at the ship I lunched on shrimp wrap with David and another lady. I then escorted the new tour to the Alameda gardens and the cable car to the summit of the rock. Three of my passengers fell at the first fence by refusing to ascend the entry staricase to the gardens, but they all did manage the cable car. The tour description did say over fifty steps, so they had been warned! At the sailaway I danced with Janet, Shirley, Colleen and two married ladies. I also led off the Slosh. I dined on Chateaubriand steak with Colleen, Barbara, Sheila and Jo & Josie again. We danced both before and after the Elvis production show.


Portimao: 8th May 2015


Me in the Algarve

Me in the Algarve

I breakfasted on a cheese omelette with the lady from Bromsgrove. I then escorted the Scenic Western Algarve tour in a large minibus (if you know what I mean). We took the motorway to Cape St. Vincent, the south westernmost point of continental Europe, before heading back along the coast road to Sagres and Lagos. Back at the ship, I lunched on Parmesan pork with Lesley, before lying down for over an hour. I danced with the usual suspects at the sailaway before doing half a dozen circuits of the top deck. June invited me to join her for a pre-prandial in Shackleton's lounge and then join her for dinner. We sat with Enid & Geoff from Cornwall and the other June & Elaine. I ordered a bottle of house white wine for the ladies, but Enid joined me in finishing my bottle of red from the previous night. I danced with both Shirleys, Joan, Barbara, Colleen, Janet and the deaf lady on a reduced sized dance floor before the orchestra's Glenn Miller show. Afterwards they had to move the grand piano back up on to the stage so there was no more dancing.


Lisbon: 9th May 2015


Bridge over the Tagus, Lisbon

Bridge over the Tagus, Lisbon

I breakfasted on one egg Benedict with another lady before escorting the Sintra & Cascais tour by four wheel drive vehicles. Our first stop was at Rocky Cape (Cabo da Rocha) the westernmost point of continental Europe. We then went off-road through the forests of cork oak and eucalyptus to Sintra. Here we refreshed ourselves with tea or coffee, apple turnovers and baklava tarts, but no Pasteis de Belem egg custard tarts! Back at the ship I had salad with no chips for lunch before lying down for an hour. I caught the 2:30 pm shuttle bus into Lisbon but the usual drop off street was closed so, after driving around in circles, I jumped off the coach and started walking back to the ship passing P&O's Oriana via the market and the fine art gallery. I danced with Colleen, Janet, Shirley and the deaf lady at the sailaway, but the ship was delayed an hour by two ladies caught up in a demonstration. So I walked around the top deck during the actual sailaway down the majestic Tagus estuary in brilliant sunshine. I dined on steak Diane with Colleen, Sheila, Barbara, Josie & Jo, all of the whom bar the first joined me in drinking a new bottle of red and an old bottle of white wine. I danced with Janet, Shirley, Joan, Colleen, Barbara, the deaf lady and Marjorie before the soprano's second show, during which I updated this blog. After the show we danced with Janet, Shirley, Colleen and Joan.


Funicular, Lisbon

Funicular, Lisbon


Fifth Sea Day: 10th May 2015

I breakfasted on a cheese omelette with Rev. Bernard, June & Colleen before leading my fourth line dance class. I taught Just Because, Ziggy & Lindi Shuffle to a dozen people. I enjoyed Nicholas Parsons's second talk before leading my fourth ballroom class at 12:30 pm before not after lunch. I taught the Social cha cha to eight people before gorging myself on roast leg of beef al fresco with a couple from Lincoln and two chaps. We saw a large halo around the sun for a few minutes - ice crystals in the upper atmosphere perhaps? I then slept for an hour and a half before doing a kilometre around the top deck in the hazy sunshine. On duty in the Captain's farewell cocktail party, I danced with Joan, Shirley and Janet. I dined on beef Wellington with June, Enid & Geoff and Elaine & June, sharing two leftover bottles and ordering a new bottle of house white. We danced with the usual suspects to the orchestra before the classical guitar show and after it to Clive.


Sixth Sea Day: 11th May 2015


Saga Pearl II

Saga Pearl II

I breakfasted on one egg Benedict with Joyce from Lytham before leading my fifth and final line dance class. I recapped California Frieze, Texas Waltz & Ziggy to a dozen people. I then worked on this blog in the briefing room. At 10:30 am I attended Staurt's interesting talk on airlines which featured my cousin Jacqueline's late husband, Sir Freddie Laker. At 11:30 am I enjoyed Nicholas Parson's talk on Edward Lear. At 12:30 pm I ran my final revision ballroom and latin american dance class for ten people. I lunched on steak, chips and mushy peas with Sylvia & Valerie, a couple from Dereham in Norfolk and another lady, before sleeping for two hours. I then packed and did a dozen circuits of the top deck (two kilometers). I dined on sirloin steak with the lady from Bromsgrove and two other couples. We all enjoyed my last two bottles of complimentary wine. We danced both before and after the final production show "Cool Britannia" which I have seen many times on both Saga and Fred. Olsen. Finally we said our goodbyes to the dancing ladies and the members of the band. One lady gave me a box of chocolates and a card which said "Thank you for the dancing"!


Southampton Disembarkation Day: 12th May 2015

I awoke at 6:30 am and had my final egg Benedict. We had to vacate the cabin by 8 am. At 9 am Saga Hotel Director Horst Pint came on board and we had an interesting discussion on recent events in the industry. I was off the ship by 9:15 am and home by 10:10 am after another super cruise!


Scorecard:

16 Dining tables hosted 9 Line dances taught 8 Tours escorted 6 New tours enjoyed 5 Sailaways attended 5 Line dance classes led 3 Cocktail parties attended 3 Ballroom dance classes taught (Social Foxtrot, Waltz & Revision) 2 Latin American dance classes taught (Social Rumba & Social Cha Cha) 1 Tour escort trained (Alexandra the Swedish wife of the Italian Chief Engineer!) 1 New port (Alcudia on Mallorca) 1 Singles mingle 1 Singles lunch


Good points:

  1. Hosting a dinner table in the dining room
  2. Leading off the Slosh some evenings
  3. Complimentary wine with dinner
  4. Free laundry for uniform items
  5. Efficient cabin steward (Allan)
  6. Two Italian coffee machines
  7. Free ice cream machine
  8. Free Internet Terminals
  9. Lots of dancing ladies
  10. Open seating dining
  11. Single sitting dining
  12. Free shuttle buses
  13. Free car parking
  14. Free launderette
  15. Free water
  16. Free Wi-fi
  17. Free fruit

For the record ...